If you have time to research and plan your hospital selection, the following is a checklist of things you may want to do first to develop a working list of hospitals to consider.
During a regular visit or annual checkup, ask your primary care physician or a specialist you see on a regular basis — a gynecologist for example — to give you his or her views on the hospitals they routinely recommend. Also take this opportunity to discuss the services you would like to receive at a hospital over and above special medical care, such as wellness programs or health-related seminars. Ask about the advantages or special characteristics of each hospital where he or she practices. Your physician’s input is important because your medical history and/or present medical condition may affect your hospital choice. For a comprehensive personal evaluation, visiting the hospital will give you a better view of its practices and personality. Important to Note: If you make a special appointment with a physician to review your hospital options, you may be expected to pay for it as an uncovered expense. Ask about the physician’s policy concerning charges for consultative visits when you call to make the appointment.
If you are covered by a managed care plan - HMO, PPO, or an HMO or plan with a POS feature - you may already have a list of the hospitals that participate in your plan. You will want to review this list against the hospitals you are considering or choose hospitals to review from those that participate in your plan. With managed care coverage, you may elect a non-participating hospital but there may be additional costs. If you feel strongly about a particular facility, contact your plan administrator before ruling it out. Or include all of the hospitals you want to consider - those in and out of the plan - and decide after your review if your beliefs and opinions about your choice are strong enough to offset potential additional costs.
You will usually find these advertised in your local paper or may receive notice of them in the mail. If not, call the hospital you are considering and ask for information on upcoming community classes and seminars. Some may be free or there may be a minimal charge.
Take the opportunity to talk to the nursing staff during your visit. And take a copy of this guide's assessment checklist (STEP THREE) with you so you can rate your options later.
If you know you will be entering a hospital in the future for a particular procedure, such as childbirth or surgery, and want information about a particular hospital's experience in the specialty you will need, VHI's service line and other hospital information can help you learn more about how often they provide certain care and, for some conditions, the quality of care they provide. VHI also provides links to other trusted sources of quality.
Many hospitals conduct consumer or patient satisfaction surveys to determine how well they perform in the patient's view. Many hospitals are proud of the results and share them with prospective patients. Ask for a copy and compare the survey results with other information you have collected. Also, some hospitals prepare report cards on their facility, including the outcomes of many procedures. You may also want to ask for a copy of this report as well.
VHI also has patient satisfaction information here.